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Epistemological Position

This research undertakes an objective perspective research. Objective research is based on factual information, not biased by personal beliefs or feelings (Neuman, 2000). An objective ontology is based on the search for the regularities and causal relationships that can be observed and described objectively without interfering with the phenomenon being studied. It is distinguished from other forms of explanation because of its requirement for systematic experimentation (Laresgoti et al. 1996).

The main reason for the choice of objective approach presented in this research is that this research is being conducted in a manner where data are collected without bias. The epistemological aspect of the research method is the way of working for getting knowledge for the research inquiry. The basis of the research of this type is the information retrieval being done from the set of data which have been gathered for further analysis and information generation. Epistemological positivist refers to the grounds of knowledge in the research work being done to develop the thesis (Remenyi, Williams, Money, and Swartz, 1998).

Furthermore, positivist research uses deductive reasoning to discover existing universal laws that can be used to predict general systems of human activity (Gephart1999, Cavana et al 2001). In American research 97 percent corresponds to a positivist paradigm (Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991). Ridley and Keen (1998) found that 88% of Australian research also conforms to a positivist epistemology. Therefore, this research approach can be considered as the dominant research approach worldwide. The table 3. 1 shows the main characteristics of a positivist paradigm.

Source: Adapted from Lincoln and Guba (2000), Gephart (1999) cited in Cavana et al. (2001) Two main benefits are identified for researchers who adopt positivist research methods. One benefit is that positivist research is always easier to carry out and also expends less time. The other benefit is that it is easier for researchers in defending their approaches and methods because positivist research is widely accepted by readers and editors (Deetz, 1996). From the above discussion, we can see that this research is positivist as it will treat reality as independent of the researcher.

It will seek to understand causal relationships and it will use precise measures to investigate the phenomenon. Several methods of collection of data for this research were considered. It was necessary to arrive at a specific method that will be appropriate to attain the objectives of the research; which depended on the subject under study. For that, the researcher collected the available information about research methods and carefully analysed the difference between the two major data collection approaches (i. e. the qualitative and quantitative research methods).

On an analysis of the relative merits and demerits of both the techniques it was decided that this research will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather the required data. A brief description of both the techniques is presented below for the information of the readers.  Qualitative Method: The qualitative method is ‘one of the two major approaches to research methodology in social science’, which involves ‘investigating participant’s opinions, behaviours and experiences from the informants’ points of view’.

In contrast with the quantitative research method, the qualitative research method ‘does not rely on quantitative measurement and mathematical models, but instead uses logical deductions to decipher gathered data dealing with the human element’. The difficulty in using this research method is ‘that it is more expensive, has smaller sample sizes and is hard to measure’ In qualitative research method non-quantitative’ methods of data collection and analysis is being used (Lofland & Lofland; 1984).

Qualitative research method been defined as ‘focuses on “quality” rather than quantity. While some other researchers say Qualitative method involves a subjective methodology and making the researcher as the research instrument (Adler and Adler; 1987) Quantitative method is a research method which depends less on subjective methods but is more focused on the collection and analysis of numerical data. Quantitative research involves analysis of numerical data.

According to Burns and Grove, quantitative research is: “a formal, objective, systematic process in which numerical data is utilized to obtain information about the research question” (Burns and Grove cited in Cormack 1991 p 140). Quantitative research uses methods which are designed to ensure objectivity and reliability. In quantitative research the researcher is considered external to the actual research, and results are expected to be the same, no matter who conducts the research. The strength of the quantitative method is that, it produces quantifiable and reliable data. William Trochim (2001)

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